Biography of Alejandro Magno (356-323 a.C.)

Alejandro Magno, Hellenistic head. Istanbul (Turkey).

King of Macedonia from 336 B.c., year died murdered his father Philip II, Alejandro III was educated by Leonidas and later by Aristotle.

Life of Alejandro

Born in Macedonia in the city of Pella (today Greece), in 356 BC, son of Filipo II, King of Macedonia and Olimpia, daughter of the King of Epiro Neoptolomeo. He/She received a careful education in charge initially of Leonidas and subsequently of the philosopher Aristoteles, the 345, which exerted a remarkable influence on Alejandro.

From an early age he/she showed great interest by the Persian Empire and its operation, as well as the invasion of the Persians about Macedonia. In the same way, interested him legends of Bacchus, which mythology becomes conqueror of the India. Fervent reader of Homer, found in Achilles his model which should imitate. It is said that he/she was able to recite from memory the Iliad and the Odyssey. According to the legend, he/she managed to tame the horse Bucephalus, which nobody had been able to assemble previously.

From 16 years played the Government of Macedonia, while his father was besieging Byzantium. He/She took part for the first time in a contest at the victorious battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) against the Medes. Shortly after he/she faced his father since Olimpia this disowned for marrying Cleopatra, niece of Attalus, Macedonian noble. Alejandro stood his mother, and after starring in a confrontation with Attalus in the wedding feast of his father, went into exile to Epirus along with Olimpia. It did not return until the death of his father, killed by Pausanias.

On the death of Philip, he/she suspected about responsibility for your child at crime, despite what succeeded him on the throne, acclaimed by the army. When he/she became King in 336 BC, he/she encountered a number of problems, on the one hand Macedonian nobles wanted to regain the privileges that his father had taken from them. To earn your loyalty, it exempted them from taxes and gave them the highest offices of his army. On the other hand, Attalus, he/she was in command of an army in Asia, attempted to depose Alejandro and give the Crown to the newborn son of Cleopatra. Greece revolted to learn of the death of Philip, led by Demosthenes. There were uprisings in Ambracia and the Thebans attacked Cadmea. At the same time the THRACIANS, tribalos, getas and Illyrians were preparing the invasion of Macedonia, convinced by the Greeks. To remedy this, he/she ordered the murder of Attalus, then stood in front of the army and turned quickly to Greece. The Greek cities were not expecting a reaction as fulminant and therefore were not prepared, so it had to yield to Alejandro. In his court, he/she eliminated all those who opposed him.

Pacified his dominions, he/she convened the Assembly of the League of Corinth in 335, which approved the war against the Persians, as his father had designed it, and elected Alejandro estratego and Supreme Commander of the Hellenes. After the appointment, he/she returned to Macedonia to prepare for war and there had to deal with the THRACIANS, tribalos and Illyrians. He/She arrived with their victorious arms to the Danube River, while in Greece, especially in Thebes, it was believed that Alejandro had died in combat, so the people took up arms; However, Alejandro returned until they refuted the news of his death. Thebes was besieged, sacked and destroyed in the 335 and its inhabitants were reduced to slavery; the other Greek States were subjected and reached your indulgence.

After securing the borders of his Macedonian Kingdom, leaving the care of his friend Antipater, he/she crossed the Hellespont under the command of an army composed mostly of Macedonians, but which had contingents of all peoples conquered at the time by Alejandro, with him defeating the satraps of the Persian of Asia minor near the river Granicus in the 334. The battle was terrible for the Persians which had important casualties, as his army collapsed before the organized attack of Alejandro, that only general Memnon managed to resist, but nothing served as the entire army was destroyed. Freed Sarde and the Greek cities of Asia; He/She took Miletus, where he/she died Memnon, and Halicarnassus. Then crossed Lycia, Pamphylia and Phrygia (where fulfilled the prophecy of the "Gordian knot", splitting it in two with his sword). In all the conquered territories he/she was Macedonian officers as governors with the title of princes.

In the summer of the 333 Macedonian forces suffered various setbacks in which lost Chios and Mytilene. These setbacks were due to the premature dissolution of the Ionian fleet, which returned to Greece, leaving the army without the possibility of retiring.

He faced the Persian army commanded by the own Darius III at the battle of Isos in the year 333 b.c. Alejandro victory was complete and the Persian King fled eastward with all their forces, leaving the Royal Treasury, as well as to his mother, Sisigambia, his wife Estatira and his children, that Alejandro respected life in the hands of Alejandro. Dario offered great riches and titles to Alejandro in Exchange to halt its progress, but this rejected them. The western part of the Persian Empire (Phoenicia, Palestine, Egypt), surrendered you without offering any resistance among the 332 and the 331. In Egypt, he/she was designated son of God Amonen the oasis of Siwa; There, he/she founded several cities, including Alexandria, and stimulated the construction of public works such as the lighthouse at the delta of the Nile, which was built in the 285 one of his generals, Ptolemy. Secured its dominion over these regions of the Mediterranean, it was able to undertake the conquest of the East.

In 331 BC he/she went to Mesopotamia, where Darío III had gathered a large army. Again in the battle of Gaugamela Alejandro defeated the Persian King, using the tactics of the oblique line which had already employed at Granicus and Isos; Darius fled to Ecbatana; Babylon and Susa were delivered. Alejandro pursued him and after crossing the doors Caspicas conquered Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Persian Empire, where he/she met a rich loot and set fire to the Royal Palace in compensation for the destruction that the Persians had caused in Greece in 480. He/She entered Persia conquered Media and Parthia. The murder of the Persian King by Bessos (330 BC) allowed Alejandro considered successor to the monarch; as such, it submitted to the dissident Eastern satrapies and, at the same time, he/she captured the killers of Dario, in order to avoid that they constitute independent kingdoms. In the 329 conquered the eastern Iran, where captured and executed Bessos. For three years he/she continued his conquests by the Persian territory, that daughter of a local Prince, at 328; took him from Hyrcania to Drangiana, Bactria and Sogdiana, where he/she married Roxana, During these years Alejandro suffered a process of orientalization provoking disgust and the abandonment of some of his fellow Macedonians.

The progressive identification of Alejandro with Persian elements manifested itself not only in the Eastern origin of the recruited troops and the appointment of satraps to the Government of the conquered areas, but also in his personal life: his marriage according to the Iranian rite, the use of attributes (label, tiara and ceremonial) Persian Royal and, what was more serious thanthe demand to the Macedonians that they salute him bowing down before him according to the gesture of worship that the Persians were to their kings. This "Asian crisis" radicalized the Suppression of Alejandro among members of his entourage who criticized the new acquired habits. He/She commanded run Filotas, Parmenio, and Callisthenes, Aristotle's nephew, after the plot of the pages of the 327; also executed the same Cleitus, his brother's milk, which had saved his life at the battle of Granicus; It is said that this it executed it with their own hands.

In 327 B.c. He/She started his expedition against the India, in order to achieve the so-called Southern and Eastern ends of the inhabited lands and meet your project's universal domain, as well as to appease the spirits of his disgruntled army, which saw how the Orientals had more weight within their ranks. In its progression towards the East he/she defeated the Indian King Hydaspes pores ; submission made that Alejandro returned him the Kingdom and considers it as a vassal. Made its way to the mouth of the Indus River, but there had to prepare the return due to a mutiny of the troops who refused to follow him to the Ganges; It was the autumn of the year 326. In little more than eight years the conquests of Alejandro occupied a huge territory linking the Mediterranean with the India and Egypt with Greece. For the return from the India had to build a heavily armed fleet, commanded by Niarcos, while Alejandro and Craterus, in front of susejercitos, moved overland in direction to Persepolis. On the way Alejandro founded several cities (Nicea and - the latter in honor of his horse Bucephalus - Bucephalous). At Susa in 324 BC, he/she married Estatira, daughter of Darius, and Parysatis, daughter of Oco, without repudiating his first wife Roxana, a fact that prompted General and soldiers Macedonians to marry Asian women.

However, Alejandro found that the disorder and corruption become had widespread during his absence from the first conquered territories, so it was forced to implement corrective measures, which in turn caused riots among Greek veterans who had followed him since the start of the campaigns. The revolt of veteran licensed in the city of Opis in 324 year triggered a series of measures aimed at creating a new structuring of the Empire in Babylon by Persians and Macedonians joining: the Persians are admitted in the army in equal rights with the Greeks; in the created satrapies took place a strict separation of civil and military powers; secentralizaron finance and created a single currency, minted in silver.

Death in Ecbatana of Hephaestion, his friend, on the 324 impressed terribly Alejandro, who buried it with pomp never seen before, the doctor who attended him crucified, accusing him of letting him die and not knowing his craft, he/she demolished the Temple of Aesculapius and the walls of Ecbatana, sent put the sacred fires of all Asia and blew himself up on his tomb at the seams youthat they had transgressed by those moments. After that, it redoubled their attempts to unite East and West, which attempted to introduce Greek culture throughout his empire; It fostered the trade based on maritime routes, in order to end founded numerous port cities and carried out dredging of rivers and ports to allow the transit of the merchant ships. It projected to facilitate communications with the distant India, conquer the Mediterranean coasts and lift buildings and monuments throughout the Empire.

All these measures were the basis to make the Empire of Alejandro expansive economic and cultural exchange, in which the language and Greek culture would contribute to regional peculiarities the wisdom of the classical world. At the same time, Alejandro was still feeding other large projects, now towards the Caspian Sea and Arabia. But soon, 13 June 323 BC, splendor and universal domain projects were reduced to die in Babylon, victim of malaria, at 33 years of age and after thirteen reign.

Alejandro Magno is considered the highest political figure of ancient times, great military strategist (first of all, in the view of Hannibal, as collected in the legend of this last character) and the creator of a work of great cultural significance: the emergence of a new world, the Hellenistic, where classical culture was enriched with Oriental contributions. However, the hellenization of Asia never came to be as profound as it was intended due to the rapid dissolution of the work of Alejandro. Indeed, nothing more death of the Macedonian King, his generals entered war with each other to lead the Empire, which ended up causing the division of the same. At first Antipater stayed with Macedonia and Greece; Antigonus with Phrygia and Lydia; Ptolemy with Egypt; and Lysimachus with Thrace; Perdiccas is supposed that it was named by the own Alejandro as Regent of the Empire, but his authority was never respected. Unit fiction was maintained until the 306, date in which the generals declared themselves rulers of their respective territories. Despite this first deal the wars not stopped until 280 BC, since the alliances changed frequently. At the end of this period survived three major realms: Macedonia with Antigonus, Asia with the Seleucids and Egypt with Ptolemy.

Legend of Alejandro

The basis of the legend

Alejandro the large died shortly before reaching age 33, as Christ, with whom he/she was associated in some way to respond both to the topic of the puer senex (Alejandro was so wise as strong since the earliest childhood). Legendary is also his famous horse, Bucephalus, result of the intersection of camel and elephant, according to the Spanish book of Alexandre. The figure of Alejandro is at the top of the cycle of the matter of Rome (as it is Charlemagne to the matter of France and Arturo for the matter of Britain). Writers of his entourage, as Callisthenes of Olynthus and Onesicritus of Astypalaia had to give his laudatory story an early patina created by the superposition of marvelous and fantastic elements; This dose was intensified by his followers, of which we have a long list in classical times (surely the will of Ptolemy and his successors to exalt their dynasty there were living at the base of some of these stories).

From the antiquity to the middle ages

The Summit of the legend of Alejandro in the middle ages is the Roman d'Alexandre, which Ortho is impossible to understand if not pursued before its evolution from the Hellenistic period. Gone are the so-called contemporary authors, as Callisthenes of Olynthus, son of a niece of Aristotle and the Macedonian Emperor expedition companion; on it, there is nothing more left to a handful of fragments, but the quality of his story, in which Alejandro appears godlike, provided that it is high quality service offered him called Alejandro novel, which is not but the story today known as Pseudo-Callisthenes. Also contemporary of Alejandro was Chares of Mytilene, author of a history of Alejandro, which referred to some indirect fragment (via Athenaeum). Other early authors were Efipo of Chalkida, who wrote about the funeral of Alejandro, Onesicritus of Astypalaia or Aegina, Nearco from Crete, Alexandria Clitarco or Aristobulus of Cassandreia, whose works are also known through simple fragments and always through later authors. Of all the ancient authors, the principal is undoubtedly Tolomeo or Ptolemy, confidant of Alejandro and his main heir.

The historians who deal with the legend of Alejandro within what is today considered second generation (corresponding to the 1st century BC) have their starting point in Diodorus Siculus, who dedicated the seventeenth book of his historical library to Alejandro. More important will be the consequences that Plutarch engaged the hero in his work on the Fortune or virtue of Alejandro and, later, his successful life of Alejandro; However, the Hellenists still consider Nicomedia Arianism as the informant leading for everything related to the figure of Alejandro. In these and other authors, it takes advantage of supposedly redacted documents about the own Alejandro, as the real events and a handful of letters, many of which are clearly spurious, although they enjoyed great fame throughout the time.

Latin historiography about Alejandro started with Quinto Curcio and its history, in the Midlands of the I century d. C.; in it, are perceived of diaphanous form some of the traits that will be enhanced by the tardo-clasicos and medieval authors as the dramatic mood or the exotic features of the narrative. The adventures of the Macedonian hero was reached also thanks to the epitome Justino (that bloomed at the beginning of the 3rd century) prepared on the Universalis story TrogoPompey. This material, is would add Pseudo-Callisthenes, so the medieval public the legend of the great Macedonian Emperor came perfectly prepared.

Of Pseudo-Callisthenes the book of Alexandre

In the 3rd century, with most of the criticism, an alejandrino, which we know as Pseudo-Callisthenes, wrote her fabulous story of Alejandro el Grande, it departed from a biography and a series of letters arranged as an epistolary novel (is a time of decadence, suitable for the novel, with a marked taste for the mythical and the fabulous). This work was translated in the 4th century Latin by such a Julio Valerio (is entitled Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis); in turn, Latin text was abbreviated in the 9th century and, thus, became the Epitome. At the end of the 11th century or beginning of the 12th century, this last book was a troubadour of the East of France named Pisançon Alberic, who wrote a poem of which only remain the 105 first verses, written in fifteen laisses of eight which used monorhythmic in Franco-Provençal dialect.

Later, a poet of the Poiteu used this last text to build 77 runs lines of ten syllables. In turn, this was continued by two poems: one of Alejandro de Paris, Eustace and Lambert le Tort of Châteaudun, up to 20,000 dodecasilabos verses (Alexandrians). The ensemble has received the name of Roman d'Alexandre, work which consists of four branches (branches) leading (collected ca. 1170-1180). Remember that you between 1178 and 1182 writes the Latin epic poem Alexandreis, Gautier de Châtillon, in which is located the other solid pillar of the Spanish book of Alexandre's work.

The four branches are as follows: 1) recounts the childhood of the hero and his first conquests in decasilabos. (2) the version of Eustaquio collects the razzia of Alejandro in Gaza. (3) it is the most extensive and is based on Lambert le Tort; It runs from the defeat of Darius to the plot to poison Alejandro. (4) work of such a Alejandro de Paris or Bernay and Pierre de Saint-Cloud, he/she tells the death of the hero, his funeral and the partition of his empire. Alejandro of Paris seems to have given its final form, with the recasting of these poems to the text and with other materials to form a work with a total of 16,000 Alexandrians arranged in chronological order.

It is very important to retain that, throughout the period in which emerged the above-mentioned rebuilt, new materials were added: then recovered to fifth Curcio (later, very succesful in the incunable period, in latin or translated) and, next to it, the history of medieval praeliis, work of the 10th century of the archpriest Leon in Naples, which is the basis for the dissemination of the legend in the middle ages; at his side, it must be seen to Justin (or, what is the same, Trogo Pompey), Pablo Orosio and various apocryphal texts, among which there is Alejandro trip to paradise, the letter from Aristotle to Alejandro, Alejandro's letter to Aristotle about the wonders of India, the Charter of pay Juan, the Liber monstruorum, etc. All this 'exotic' material weighed greatly in a truly ornate mirabilia legend from its origins.

In this way, the Roman is shown as a roman of adventures with oriental decor (that will leave a clear imprint on so many fictional accounts of the European middle ages); In addition, Alejandro is, somehow, the embodiment of all the knightly virtues, which invites you to read the book as a compendium of feats of war. However, its Constitution as an encyclopedia will do something other than work, especially in the case of the Spanish book of Alexandre. As we know it, it is "an intermediate link between history, epic, biography and legend, on one side, and on the other novel", as noted by Carlos García Gual; However, for its theme, outside France, it is not properly a text epic or heroic.

As in the case of the life of Christ or the epic such as Charlemagne, Guillaume d'Orange or the Cid heroes, we have quite a few works that continue the cycle: the two Vengement Alixandre, in which avenging his death (XII century); La Prise de Defur (13th century), with 1654 Alexandrians in which include the amorous adventures of the hero, and the Voyage d'Alexandre au paradis terrestre. Among other works, it is necessary to quote the Voeux du Paon of Jacques de Longuyon (14th century), which once were translated into Spanish and read by don Iñigo López de Mendoza, our famous Marqués de Santillana (in fact, cited in his Prohemio e letter).


In general, go to the book by G. Cary, The Medieval Alexander, Cambridge, 1956, or C. Frugoni, the fortunes of Alessandro Magno dall' Antichità to medieval times, Florence, 1978. On the figure of Alejandro and his legendary treatment, we now have A. Guzmán and J. Gómez Espelosín, Alejandro Magno, Madrid, 1999.